This interdisciplinary seminar will compare how Athenian drama was received and adapted in antiquity and in the United States since 1776.
The juxtaposition of different temporal periods and geographical regions raises productive questions about the reception of Athenian drama in radically different socio-political contexts. With the participation of specialists from Classics, Theatre, English, Political Science and History, we will consider how and why adaptations and reproductions of ancient Greek plays are so often used in democracies and totalitarian states alike and what this reception history can tell us about the adaptable aesthetics and political potency of ancient Greek drama.
The series concentrates on the changing contexts of reception of ancient Athenian drama. In recent years, many successful and useful conferences have been organized on specific plays of antiquity by various universities in the city of Chicago, among them are Persians (NU 2006/7), Antigone (DePaul 2007/8), Medea (Chicago, 2008). Our Sawyer seminar series branches in a new direction taking as our starting point and our focus, not a single work of literature, but a series of known periods and places of the reception and reproduction of Athenian drama. We hope to provide a forum to contextualize and re-examine literary interpretations of ancient theatre, but also to provoke different and complementary questions about the enduring power of Athenian drama.